Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 SFC Turkey- the Asclepium

At the foot of the mountain that is home to the ancient site of Pergamon lies one of the (if I remember correctly) five hospitals of the ancient world- the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of healing...better known as the Asclepium.

Looking up toward the ruins of Pergamon.

Patients with health problems walked  this colonnade toward treatment.

Looking down the colonnade toward the Temple of Zeus on the hill.

In the background, you can see the Roman theatre that could seat 3500.

It is still used today.

The healed often made dedications, many of which still remain.

Galen, the most famous doctor of ancient Rome, worked at the Asclepium for many years.  He would have stood under these columns, prescribing water cures and interpreting dreams.

Patients would fall asleep in a grotto off one of these many passages.

They would be awakened and asked about their dreams.  Dreams, it seems, were a method of working out struggles within the patient.  And so long before Dr. Freud!!!!!!

An ancient hospital, already using what we would consider "modern" methods.  There really is nothing new under the sun....

And it always helps to have a friend along for the ride.


2012 SFC Pergamon

Our family is lucky to have one of the most talented travel agents on the planet.  Her name is Teri Crane of World Travel Management in Woodland Hills, California.  She started making our family's arrangements waaayyy back with my great-aunt Eleanor (aka Auntie Mame), and continues to surprise us with her creativity and responsiveness.

Now CruiseGran wanted her grandchildren to see some important sites in Turkey.  I mean, as long as we were there..... so Teri made arrangements with Ya'lla Tours to provide guide services and accommodations for us along the western portion of Turkey.

It turned into three of the most wonderful days of my life.  Seriously.

Our tour guide, Özgür Erdogan, was, without a doubt, the best tour guide I have ever had. Yep, I have been a lot of places in this world, but Özgür, or "Fred" as he sometimes goes by, was heads and shoulders above the rest.  He was not only knowledgable, but was aware of the range of ages in our whole group, and played to us all.  He sped up when we wanted to, he slowed down when we needed to, he rearranged sites, added some and cancelled others, to make sure our three days with him were absolutely PERFECT.

Partly thanks to him, I fell in love with Turkey.

So come along with me as I relive our gloriously fun days tromping around Western Turkey.

We linked up with Fred (and why someone once told him that "Özgür"  was too difficult to pronounce is beyond me), at the Ritz-Carlton and headed to the airport to catch a Turkish Airline's flight to Izmir.

(Note to Turkish Airlines--I really wish you would credit me with my miles....I've asked you three times now....)

The drive out of Izmir was, in a word, stunning.

By now, you know this family travels to the rumblings tune of its collective stomach, so it's no surprise that our first stop on landing in Izmir was lunch.  We had a delicious buffet and ala carte lunch at Saglam just outside the modern town of Bergama.


Fresh bread with a smile.

Flatbread cooked to order in a stone oven.

I wish we had time to stop for a look around...this looks like my kind of store.

After lunch, we headed to the ancient site of Pergamon.  The self-same site referenced as Satan's throne in the Bible's Book of Revelations.  We couldn't take the tramway to the top of the acropolis because of wind (phew!!) and took taxis to the top.  And the view....well, judge for yourself.

Alix in a windy pose.

Julia had already found her headgear of choice.

As an American, I sometimes have difficulty getting my brain around sites so ancient.

There's so much history in these ruins- so much, I forget which is which....the foundations of the Temple of Zeus, the Temple to Trajan, the Library that was the second greatest in the ancient world.

I just know it was stunning.

And beautiful.

And massive.

I think of the hands that carved this beautiful corinthian column so many centuries ago.  What type of person was he?  What was his family like?

This is part of the Sanctuary of Trajan.

Fred always found us shade for a rest as he explained the importance of Pergamon and showed us overlays of what the area looked like in ancient times.  It was so helpful to be able to visualize the buildings as they must have been when ordinary people went about their ordinary lives.

They say that God is in the details.

Alix enjoying herself.

Here's a shot of the Hellenistic theatre.   It could seat 10,000 and has the steepest seating of any theatre in the ancient world.

Don't believe me?

How about now???

Yes, Hutch is standing up.

The Ancients had basements when basements weren't cool...

Amazingly, not everything was hauled away to museums in Berlin and London.

Think of the centuries this building has seen.

The storms it has weathered.

The battles that have been fought around it.

We have everyone but CruiseGran in this photo.  She had stopped a level below us to take in the view.

That is some stage.  One step too far upstage, and you are toast.

I wonder who wandered this corridor?

I wonder who chipped this detail?

I wonder who looked out for enemies from this tower?

Protection from miles around at this height.

Leaving Pergamon, we headed to our next site...passing an afternoon gathering of men....a typical Turkish sight.

And on to the  Asclepium!